This is the second and the concluding part of the Particularizing problems article that I put up some days ago. I hope you enjoy it and learn from it as you enjoyed and learnt from
Last year in my masters’ degree class, we were required as part of a Course in Indigenous Communication to watch and discuss a documentary that focused on the Berlin Conference of 1884 and the massacre of the Herero (an ethnic group native to Namibia) by the Germans. Needless to say that almost all of us spent most of the time set apart for the discussion lashing out at the “Europeans” who wiped out our culture, destroyed our language, massacred our people and made us strangers in our own land. Suddenly a member of the class who hadn’t spoken throughout the entire debate spoke up and said, “The damage has been done, the Europeans have done all the things you have all talked about to us, but the question we should ask ourselves is “what do we do next? Where do we go from here?” Then he added, “The world today is a global village, everywhere you turn to there is a mingling of ethnic groups and races. We as Africans could either continue to channel our aggression towards the “west,” which would ultimately be an exercise in futility because the “west” doesn’t even exist as a monolithic entity anymore, or we could pick up the pieces we have left and move on with our lives”
At that moment it clicked into place. The view of aggression that most of us had in the class that day was not peculiar to us, it is a view that I find people expressing over and over again. I discovered that because of the “me” mentality we have, we think our problems are too big to move on from, that the wounds we have sustained are too deep to heal. As a result we allow the wounds to fester, using it as an excuse for aggression towards the entity that caused the problem. We sit and lick our wounds, wallowing in self pity and lamenting to everybody passing by that it is a wicked world out there, and we are the innocent victims who have been unjustly maltreated. We cannot move on from our problems because being “victims” allows us to remain the object of pity (and by extension remain the centre of attention), while moving on without much fuss would imply to everybody else that we are strong enough to handle our wounds without them having to watch us, and the egocentric mentality we have will never allow that to happen. Little wonder that Nigeria, nay Africa is still running cap in hand to Europe to beg for foreign aid especially recently on the subject of terrorism( however this piece is not a political piece so that is a discussion for another day).
It is worthy for me to reiterate again that the argument is not that you should treat your problems with levity, or deny that they exist, (in this case dismissing the effects of the Berlin conference or the Herero massacre would be criminal), after all it is the Yoruba that say “if you have a pain in your hand, you should hide it inside your clothes.” What the piece is saying is that the reason you go to a doctor when you are sick is because you know that your problem is not particular to you and that the doctor in this case can help you, the way he helped people who had the same problem(s) you have, (so maybe we should not entirely condemn what African leaders did in Paris for example, it is all a matter of perception anyway. Again this is not a political piece so no more digressions). When you move on, you free yourself from that “me mentality that wants you to believe that the world is against you.
You are unique, no doubt about it, but you are only one person walking the same space as seven billion other people, so you have no reason to feel more pompous than necessary. As an older friend of mine would say “the person who defeacated inside the church has done his business, you can either leave the shit there and lament about people who don’t respect God, or clean it up and make the place better looking .” The choice is yours